HC suspends Vaiko’s 1-year jail term in sedition case

HC suspends Vaiko’s 1-year jail term in sedition case

MDMK chief Vaiko

The Madras High Court (MHC) on Thursday handed out a major relief to MDMK chief Vaiko by suspending his one-year jail sentence awarded by a trial court in a 2009 sedition case.

The court counselled Vaiko to be responsible while making public speeches pending disposal of the appeal filed by him.

Justice P D Audikesavalu granted the relief on the appeal moved by Vaiko challenging his conviction and one-year imprisonment in the sedition case filed by the then DMK government in 2009 for his comments against the Centre and in support of the outlawed LTTE.

The special court hearing cases against MPs and MLAs had on July 5 convicted Vaiko and sentenced him to one year in prison. The MDMK chief appealed against the order in the Madras High Court that agreed to hear the petition.

"The effect of the word spoken must be judged objectively and from standards reasonable, strong-minded, firm and courageous men and not those of week and vacillating minds, nor of those who want danger in every hostile point of view. Otherwise, the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression will be in jeopardy and will remain only in paper," Vaiko said in the petition.

Ironically, the DMK, whose government filed the case in 2009 against Vaiko, has now sent the MDMK chief to the Rajya Sabha after a gap of 23 years. The firebrand leader began his parliamentary career in the Rajya Sabha by representing the DMK in the Upper House for 18 years from 1978.

The trial court verdict is in connection with the case filed by the Tamil Nadu Police under Sections 124-A (sedition) and 153 -A (promoting enmity between different groups) against Vaiko for his speech. In his speech, Vaiko had spoken in favour of the LTTE and against the central government.

In the verdict, the sessions judge said the position of the accused in the society and his speech made would tend to create a major impact on the mind of public and the consequential effect which the accused would surely be aware to be produced in the mind of the people.

“The book was released, and the hatred message was delivered on 13.07.2009 just two months (19.05.2009) after the death of LTTE leader Prabhakaran. Judging by that standard, at that time there was a danger to the security of the state and central and the mood of the people of the state were in a boiling situation,” the trial court verdict said.

The MDMK chief is a vocal supporter of the outlawed LTTE and had collected funds for the proscribed organisation in its fight against the Sri Lankan Government. He was also jailed for 18 months under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in 2002 by the AIADMK government led by J Jayalalithaa for his comments on LTTE.